GOALIE WARM-UP SUGGESTION
Start with the ball in your stick at the goal line extended on goalie’s right. You are at 9:00 (X, or center behind = 12:00), about 15 yards from the goal with the stick in your right hand. Being farther out helps both coach and goalie more easily see the arc. Walk counter-clockwise, show him the ball. Don’t throw it. Walk slowly. Take note of how much goal net you can see. As you reach the top of the arc in the center of the field (6:00), the goalie must be centered at the top of his arc whether on the goal line or out from the goal. It is not important how far out he comes if he is comfortable. It is much more important that the coach take note of how much net is shown, and begin to help the goalie sense how to take that away. When you get around to 3:00, turn and walk the arc back, this time with the left hand. Make sure the goalie is lining up with the ball, not the man who has the ball.
Keep moving this time, going all the way around the 360 degree circle. When the ball goes behind, the goalie wants to turn and face it with his stick above the crossbar (top hand slides down to center of handle-bottom hand on butt) for a possible pick of a pass. He should be out from the goal a bit, where he can take a large pivot step and get himself tucked on the pipe on either side when the ball comes around. Practice his move to the pipe from behind the goal a lot.
Inside his steps inside the crease is where the goalie must be in control.
Try to get the goalie to just take comfortable steps, not too big or small. Especially when on the pipe the goalie can get the best push from his back leg. Things happen fast in a game and he needs to build a pattern of smooth steps right from the beginning. Calm amidst chaos. It rubs off on a team.
After you have done this for a couple of minutes, start taking easy shots on the goal. Only high shots, but both left and right. You’re trying to build a rhythm, so you must be accurate. Speed of shot is not important right now. Tell him to “Step to the ball” every time someone shoots. Also tell him always to “Lead with your hands.” These coaching cues will become automatic as you teach.
Begin running the ball around as you shoot. Move faster, but don’t start shooting harder. You want the goalie to make as many saves as possible. Don’t get in the habit of going out there and trying to beat your goalie. You want to be able to throw the ball in good spots so he can learn how to make good saves. The coach must hit spots for the goalie to learn how to defend them.
ALWAYS START WITH BABY STEPS
There is a line down the middle of a goalie’s body. If the ball is coming on his left side, then he must lead with his left foot. Right side, right foot. This is simple, but important. Step to the ball, and step through as the catch is made and the goalie looks to pass the ball. Get him to start looking right away. Put a traffic cone at the center of the field in early season warm-ups so that he can really always think about the fact that HE is the center of the field and will move and direct his defense accordingly.
FOLLOW YOUR (stick) HEAD
When the shot comes high to the goalie’s off-stick side, the stick should cross straight in front of his face. No twirling or rolling the stick head. His stick head should move in a straight line as much as possible, not a parabola, and towards making saves.
GOOD POSITION DEFINES YOU AS A GOALIE
If the goalie gets way out of position, simply stop and let him turn around to see where he is. He will correct himself. This kind of coaching is really fun. Remember that more than anything, goalies are trying to take as much of the net out of the shooters view as possible. Also, it is hard to overemphasize the pipe. The more time a goalie spends on pipe as the ball moves around the better. For one thing, when the goalie is on pipe, there is no guesswork as to where the next movement or step will be. He should always come away from the pipe almost reluctantly, though.
THE NEXT STEP
As the ball location moves the goalie foot steps, pushed from the back and then the other foot follows and slides into position. No choppy steps. Feet should not be more than shoulder width when in position. A goalie’s weight should be on the balls of his feet, ready to pounce on the ball, ready to move to the ball, wherever it comes from.
Make sure the steps are smooth. Ideally, it takes the goalie only 2 or 3 steps to get to any position he needs to defend best from, and the same to get back tucked up on the pipe from anywhere in the crease area. The movement of the goalie in the creases can sometimes be more up and back than it is side to side. Have him hug the pipe until the ball is well above the goal line extended. Again, stay on the pipe as long as possible so that there can only be one direction the goalie will have to move. This will help him learn to anticipate, without going too early. It will also assist in teaching your entire defense how to differentiate “easy” saves from “hard”, and how he can help the goalie make more easy ones.
To find the pipe it is okay to tap the pipe with the handle of the stick or somehow use it as a spacing tool. At any rate it is not okay for goalie to to turn around and look for the pipe. Some coaches say it isn’t good to tap the goal, because he might be tapping when the shooter is shooting. I agree. Don’t tap the goal while the shooter is shooting. I also say that within the confines of good self-discipline, the more “style” shown by a goalie, the better. You don’t want your goalie to be a clone but rather you want him to be the guy that can lead your team on the field and in the most difficult of jobs, that of preventing scores.
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS – GOALIE STOP BALL
The goalie must learn to trust his footwork and that ability to help him make saves, because it will. He must work to be agile enough to ‘own’ his crease. Sometimes it’s a dance, maybe a waltz, sometimes a jitterbug. It can be a slam dance or a hip hop festival in front of and around the goal. Prepare him for all situations by preparing him for all situations.